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  • Writer's picturelaurenstreetcounselling

When the setbacks strike........

So how is everyone doing? I'll be honest, I've found this time a little stressful. I've not written a blog for a while as I didn't feel motivated to do so. Part of me also didn't find it appropriate for some reason; people would have more important things to worry about than reading what I had to say. I think that crossed my mind because I may not say the right thing or what people needed to hear. That's hard for a therapist to admit, usually we can offer a space for clients to work through their feelings, we can offer a viewpoint or an exercise for a client to experiment with.

During times of trouble the human instinct kicks in - do we fight, flight, freeze or appease? I've found myself doing all of these things at times, I've come to terms with that, and hopefully you can too. There's so many blogs, online posts & influencers saying we should have a routine, learn something new or revisit an old skill in order to keep ourselves busy. If you've got the motivation to do that then great, but not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes we don't feel motivated, we don't want to or we don't know how to begin.

Even if we weren't in lockdown I always say to clients that setbacks are an inevitable part of the therapeutic process and life in general. There are always going to be situations where we can't control what's going on and boy are we in one of those right now! Setbacks can feel frustrating, like you're taking a step backwards or you even feel like giving up. Sitting with that feeling can be challenging at times and so naturally we want to distract ourselves or suppress the feelings so we can carry on, however, you can tolerate it.

Acknowledging you've had a setback is an important first step. It allows you to focus on what's going on and what you could do next. You may not have all the answers straight away but you can take an important step forward in terms of processing what's happened.

If you experience a setback here is my 10 step guide to help you to process it and try to move forward:

  1. Acknowledge the setback

  2. Think about what emotions you're feeling or have felt

  3. Be present with yourself - where are you now? Emotionally & physically

  4. What can you do? We too often focus on the negative aspects of setbacks that we often forget to think about what we are able to do

  5. Set a realistic goal to achieve to build your confidence

  6. Express how you feel - to someone you trust

  7. Consider starting therapy if this isn't something you've already started

  8. Consider how you'll handle the setback, should it happen again

  9. Focus on what good things are in your life

  10. Be kind to yourself - setbacks happen!

Having a setback can feel like "I am back to square one" but this often isn't the case. Setbacks are an opportunity to learn from the experience and understand how you've processed it emotionally. By understanding where you are now you may also come to accept where you've come from. That is what I encourage in my clients - to acknowledge their emotional tolerance and capabilities with coping with setbacks. Of course, if you had a choice to not experience one you'd rather not, but how possible is that? By accepting that setbacks are an inevitable part of the process you free yourself from the demands of perfection, total emotional comfort and 100% certainty.

So whether you're keeping to a routine, learning something new or in fact just trying to get through each day in the best way that you can just know that if it feels right for you then it's right. Not everything is good 100% of the time and whilst it may not be OK, it's bearable. We're going to get through this and hopefully we'll all be a little bit kinder to ourselves in the process.

Till next month

Lauren x

P.S Stay safe, wherever you are

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